Ivana Trump, first wife of former president, dies at 73

NEW YORK (AP) — Ivana Trump, a skier-turned-businesswoman who was one half of a publicity power couple in the 1980s as the first wife of former President Donald Trump and the mother of his oldest children elderly, died in New York, her family announced Thursday. She was 73 years old.

The former president posted on her social media app that she died at her Manhattan home.

“She was a wonderful, beautiful and incredible woman who led a wonderful and inspiring life,” he wrote on Truth Social. The couple shared three children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric.

“She was so proud of them, like we were all so proud of her,” he wrote. “Rest in peace, Ivana!”

Two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that police are investigating whether Ivana Trump fell down the stairs and believe her death was accidental.

She was found unconscious near a staircase in the house, the sources said. The people were unable to discuss the issue publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. The medical examiner’s office will determine an official cause of death.

“It was a very sad day, a very sad day,” Eric Trump said as he left his mother’s home near Central Park.

In a statement, he and his siblings called her “an incredible woman – a force in business, a world-class athlete, a radiant beauty and a caring mother and friend.”

“She fled communism and embraced this country,” the three said. “She taught her children courage and tenacity, compassion and determination.”

Ivanka Trump posted childhood photos of herself laughing and smiling with her mother, who she described as “brilliant, charming, passionate and wickedly funny”.

A Czech-born ski racer and occasional model, she met the future president in the 1970s and quickly saw him as “smart and funny – an all-American good guy”, as she put it in a book by 2017.. The couple married in 1977.

She became an icon in her own right, dripping in 80s style and glamour, with her signature blonde bun. She influenced the look of the over-the-top Patsy Stone in the classic British sitcom ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, with the character touting Ivana as ‘tremendous’ in one episode.

Trump herself would eventually appear in the hit 1996 film “The First Wives Club” with the now famous line, “Ladies, you must be strong and independent, and remember, don’t get mad, get it all.”

The Trumps have become romantic and business partners. She ran one of his Atlantic City casinos and helped make Trump Tower an image of ’80s success (or excess, to some).

She overruled architects to have a 60ft waterfall installed in Trump Tower’s atrium, and she traveled to an Italian quarry to choose the pinkish-beige Breccia Pernice marble that lines its floors and walls, according to a biography of Donald Trump by Wayne Barret.

Barbara Res, a former Trump Organization executive who was in charge of building the skyscraper, recalled that Ivana helped the decorator and took a keen interest in details such as doorman uniforms.

“She did all of this to impress Donald, to win his approval,” Res said. “She was going back and forth all the time and leaving her children. She had a tremendous work ethic. »

The two were staples of the New York see-and-be-seen scene before their equally public and messy divorce in 1992. Donald Trump had met his next wife, Marla Maples.

“I couldn’t turn on the TV without hearing my name,” Ivana Trump wrote in her book.

During the split, Ivana Trump accused him of rape in an affidavit in the early 1990s. She later said she didn’t mean it literally, but rather felt violated.

Donald Trump sometimes said he regretted Ivana joining him in business and blamed her for the collapse of their marriage.

“I think putting a woman to work is a very dangerous thing,” he told ABC News in the early ’90s. “If you’re in business for yourself, I really think it’s a bad idea to make your wife work for you,” he said, complaining that when she became a businesswoman, “a sweetness disappeared.”

Nevertheless, Ivana ultimately remained friends with her ex-husband, whom she dubbed “The Donald.” She enthusiastically supported his run for the White House in 2016, saying he would “bring big changes” to the United States, and told the New York Post that she was making suggestions to him about his campaign.

“We talk before and after the appearances and he asks me what I thought about it,” she said. She said she advised him “to be more calm”.

“But Donald can’t be calm,” she added. “He is very outspoken. He simply says it as it is.

However, she occasionally ruffled feathers.

In 2017, while promoting her book, she told “Good Morning America” ​​that she spoke with the then-president about every two weeks and had his direct number from the House. Blanche, but didn’t want to call too often because of the first lady at the time. The presence of Melania Trump.

“I don’t want to cause jealousy or anything because I’m basically Trump’s first wife, okay?” said Ivana laughing. “I’m the first lady, okay? »

Melania Trump’s spokesperson at the time respondedclaiming that there was “clearly no substance to this statement from an ex, unfortunately it is just noise seeking attention and self-serving”.

Ivana Trump had continued her business ventures in recent years, promoting an Italian weight loss diet in 2018.

“Health is the most important thing we have. Let’s keep it that way,” she said at the time.

His death came during a difficult week for the Trump family. Two of his children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, and the former president are due to appear in the coming days for questioning as part of the New York Attorney General’s civil investigation into the family’s business practices.

Ivana Trump was born Ivana Zelnickova in 1949 in the Czechoslovak town of Gottwaldov, formerly Zlin, which had just been renamed by the Communists who took over the country in 1948.

She has been married four times, the last time to Italian actor Rossano Rubicondi. The two divorced in 2009 after a year of marriage, but continued to see each other on and off until 2019, when she told the New York Post that the relationship had run its course. He died of cancer last year at age 49.

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Associated Press writers Bernard Condon and Michael Balsamo in New York and Jeff McMillan in Scranton, Pennsylvania contributed to this report.

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